"Meritocracy is a ghost"

Intellectum, Greece

With sharp drops in advertising revenue and drastic public cuts, the financing system for Greek journals has never been less transparent. As the “networking” factor attains new levels, meritocracy seems a far-off dream says Intellectum editor Victor Tsilonis.

Intellectum receives no funding at all from the Greek state. The large part of the budget – around 65 per cent – comes from sales and advertising. Since the crisis, advertising revenue has dropped. At the same time, sales have gone up, as the journal becomes better known. The remainder of the budget comes from donations from Intellectum “members”. They include businesses that advertise in the journal but whose primary motivation is to donate. We run a donation campaign before the publication of every issue. Since the crisis, this source of income has also been declining sharply. We do not benefit from any “hidden funding” via rebates and the like. Do we make use of voluntary unpaid work? Certainly, yes, all the time! There is no other way!

Financing European cultural journals

Like other types of cultural organization reliant on public funds, cultural journals throughout Europe have felt the impact of recession. In addition to funding cuts, journals are also having to negotiate the upheavals taking place in the print sector.

Through a European survey of financing for cultural journals, Eurozine takes stock of the situation of the network, in order to communicate its experiences internally and to others who hold a stake in European cultural policy today. [more]

Read the statements here:

Varlik, Turkey

Ord&Bild and Glänta, Sweden

Vikerkaar, Estonia

Wespennest, Austria

Sodobnost, Slovenia

Host, Czech Republic

Res Publica Nowa, Poland

Mute, UK

Intellectum, Greece

Blätter für deutsche und internationale Politik, Germany

Funding for journals is, in theory, available from the Greek Ministry of Culture. It is often the case that journals are funded indirectly, via other programmes not expressly focused on journals. In order to get that funding you obviously need to have personal contacts with officials at the Ministry of Culture or at OPAP Sport Limited, the lottery and betting company that funds culture in Greece. Nowadays, those that do receive this kind of funding don’t shout about it, so it’s not transparent as to which journals actually do benefit. In any case, there are probably no more than two or three.

The drastic decrease in funding sources has raised the “networking” factor (to put it politely) to a whole new level – you won’t get any funding unless you can pull a dozen strings. This applies to private as well as public sector funding. Meritocracy is a ghost hunted by Intellectum and a few brave others for many years, and will no doubt elude us in the years to come. One shouldn’t forget the golden rule that you can only catch a ghost after you die!

All Intellectum‘s content is available on the website (www.intellectum.org), although we are always one step behind the current printed issue. We have also introduced a web-only column called “Fingerprints of the day” that are no longer than 700 words and that focus on current news. The social media have an invaluable role to play in making the journal known to a wider public, since most of the time no other form of advertising is possible. So far, our online activities have remained immune to the crisis. Despite this, we have no plans to discontinue the print version, which we still consider necessary despite the high costs.

We have also set up an e-shop where you can buy print copies of Intellectum as well as Intellectum T-shirts, though sales are still relatively low. We intend to expand the customers’ options, for example by enabling them to purchase Intellectum in .pdf format for a low price. It is worth mentioning that, despite our efforts, publishing in .epub format has not been possible because companies and stores (such as the Apple Store) seem to be interested only in books and not journals.

More and more, we are going “beyond publishing” and now even have our own web-radio show every Sunday. We also organize exhibitions of artists who provide their work to Intellectum for free, as well as cultural events and public lectures. All these “extra curricular activities” are in order to make the work of Intellectum better known.

What can Eurozine do to consolidate the position of cultural journals in Europe? A European network of journals has a heavy burden to bear, which becomes even heavier during this period of crisis. Running collective projects with the journals and assisting journals from economically vulnerable EU states may be a critical factor. After all, what is European journals network without the journals?

Published 12 September 2012
Original in English
First published by Eurozine

Contributed by Intellectum © Victor Tsilonis / Eurozine

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